The legacy of slavery runs deep in the fabric of the United States of America. And 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is opening up about his personal connection to the legacy in blog post published on the Medium last Sunday.
In the article O’Rourke explained that his paternal great-great-great grandfather owned two enslaved Black people, Rosa and Eliza, in the 1850s. He also found out that his maternal great-great-great grandfather potentially owned enslaved s well.
“They were able to build wealth on the backs and off the sweat of others, wealth that they would then be able to pass down to their children and their children’s children,” he wrote. “In some way, and in some form, that advantage would pass through to me and my children.”
O’Rourke also shared that his wife Amy O’Rourke has ancestors who also owned enslaved Black people and one who was a soldier in the Confederate Army.
“I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others,” he wrote. “That only increases the urgency I feel to help change this country so that it works for those who have been locked-out of — or locked-up in — this system.”
O’Rourke, who is simply and affectionately called Beto, has been asked about his stance on reparations before on his campaign trail.
Initially, in March, he said he was not in favor of reparations but was in support addressing the lasting impact of slavery and systemic racism, Fox News reported.
In April, O’Rourke rescinded his opposition to reparation and is now among many other 2020 candidates who have said they support Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s reparations proposal.
In his post on Medium, O’Rourke spelled out his plans to address disenfranchisement in Black communities. His plans include changes to education policy and underfunding; supporting minority owned businesses; sending health care professions to make home visits for women of color to address infant and maternal mortality rates; and expunging records for people with nonviolent drug offenses.
“In the aggregate, slavery, its legacy and the ensuing forms of institutionalized racism have produced an America with stark differences in opportunities and outcomes, depending on race,” he wrote.
“As a person, as a candidate for the office of the Presidency, I will do everything I can to deliver on this responsibility.”